The Teetotaller (The Temperance Reel)

Reel, G, traditional Irish & American
Also known as Teetotaller; The Teatotaller’s

The Teetotaller, also known as the Temperance Reel. TrailJams Tune of the Week. Play it together August 6, 2023. Illustration copyright 2023 Jonathan Lay.

Originating in Ireland, this traditional tune is now firmly a part of American old time music and bluegrass. In the context of Irish traditional music the tune goes by the name of The Teetotaller, while in American traditional music it goes by the name of The Temperance Reel.

Temperance and teetotalling refer to abstinence from drinking alcohol. The “tee-” in “teetotaller” refers to a capital letter T, and is an old way of emphasizing the word “totaller” or total abstainer.


Sheet Music

As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference.

Sheet music with chords for The Tetotaller (The Temperance Reel), traditional Irish reel in G major. Arrangement by Jonathan Lay.
Play from the Dots
Very slow tempo 45bpm
Slow tempo 65bpm
Moderate tempo 85bpm


Examples of sets that include this tune.

References and Resources

For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.